Clean Power Plan promises health benefits

2 min read

The health benefits federal officials predict would result from implementing President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan —which calls for reducing carbon emissions from power plants by nearly one-third of the 2005 level by 2030 —are realistic, according to Jonathan Buonocore, research associate, Center For Health and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and co-author of a study in the May 2015 issue of Nature Climate Change.

In a Modern Healthcare article on August 4, 2015, Buonocore said the standards could boost health by slowing climate change, and thereby reduce the number of extreme storms like hurricanes and heat waves, which can lead to water and food shortages and deaths. Also, by boosting air quality, known as a “co-benefit,” there would be fewer premature deaths, heart attacks, asthma, and stroke.

“The nice thing about these co-benefits is you get them immediately,” Buonocore said in the article.

The plan, if adopted, promises to help reduce other climate-related public health issues, such as higher ozone levels, which can worsen respiratory problems like asthma, he told Wired in an August 4, 2015 article. “Ozone is usually a problem in the summer,” Buonocore said. “With climate change you’re basically extending the ozone season.”

Federal officials say the Clean Power Plan by 2030 would prevent 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, 1,700 heart attacks, and 300,000 missed days of school and work.